by guest author Melanie Griffin
Make sure you can vote this year by keeping up with registration details and deadlines. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- To vote in South Carolina, you need to register at least thirty days before the election in which you want to participate. For example, the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary is on February 29 in SC this year, so to vote in that, you’ll need to be registered by January 30. To vote in the general presidential election, get registered by October 4.
- South Carolina has open primaries, which means anyone registered to vote can vote in either party’s primary without officially declaring themselves a member of that party.
- If you’re registering to vote in SC for the first time, you’ll need a South Carolina driver’s license or photo ID from an SC DMV.
- If you’ve moved since the last time you voted in SC, make sure your address is updated (especially if you’ve switched counties). You can change your address on the DMV’s website in about five minutes at no cost. Your address must be up to date with the DMV before you can update it for your voter registration.
- Students can register to vote “where they reside while attending college,” according to the South Carolina State Election Commission. They interpret this as either the address you live at while attending your classes, like your dorm or off-campus apartment, or the address you go to when you’re not in classes, such as your parent’s house, so you can register with either. Check the South Carolina Code of Laws section 7-1-25 for state election residency laws.
- There’s also a national voter registration application for students who want to register for home addresses that are outside South Carolina. The U.S. Vote Foundation website lets you search for other states’ deadlines if you are planning on registering elsewhere; they’re not all on the same schedule.
- If you won’t physically be in the place where you’re registered to vote on election day, apply for an absentee ballot. You can do that in person until 5 p.m. the day before the election. You can also apply for an absentee ballot over the internet or mail, and this requires you to complete and send in your absentee application by 5 p.m. four days prior to the election. You’re required to cast your absentee ballot by 7 p.m. the day of the election.
Find more details about voting in SC on the South Carolina Election Commission’s website.